My beautiful, smart, talented Punky is playing her first lead role, as Scout, in a theatre production of 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' This is the biggest thing that has happened to her in her short 12 years on this planet. I'm more excited for this than I ever was for my own performances in high school. The rehearsal schedule is intense and will only get more so as we inch closer and closer to Opening Night. The theatre, which is a well respected one that has turned out a few current stars of today, is a 40 minute drive for us. Rehearsals are every night of the week beginning at 7:30 and ending anywhere from 9:30 to 11pm. All in all, it makes for a long night for us leaving the house at 6:45 and not returning until 11:30pm.
Of course we've adjusted our school schedule to accommodate for the rehearsals and soon, the run of the show. Punky will give 9 performances as Scout. For those 9 performances she has worked hard to learn all her lines (and there are a lot), know her cues, and develop facial expression and body language for each scene. She's learning about active listening, being in the moment, and developing a character. She's also having to learn how to do physical/stunt work as the scene toward the end has her being attacked and in running away from her attacker she trips and falls. She has to trip and fall 9 times in total during the run of the show and countless other times during rehearsals. She's already learned to not land on her hands, as she did the first try, and she has the sore wrist to remind her. She's learned all this without me. She's learned all this on her own through either the guidance and direction of her fellow cast mates and director or through her own intuition, inherent skill, and talent in acting.
During this time Punky is learning fractions in her math course - adding and subtracting them, multiplying and dividing them, reducing them, finding common denominators, improper fractions and mixed numbers, etc. For Grammar she has finished her prepositions study and is now on verbs and every thing you can imagine one is to learn about them: phrases, regular verbs, irregular verbs, direct objects, linking verbs, predicate nominatives and adjectives, etc. Punky is allowed to choose her reading material each week and do a report. She developed an interest in slavery, a topic she has previously avoided out of distaste. It is the story of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' that has sparked her interest in race relations in our country going back to slavery and on through to Civil Right and today's climate. Currently she is studying the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, and others. Thanks to her being cast as Scout she's opened herself up to issues that she previously found too difficult to think about or deal with. By being in the production she is learning, in a deep, personal way, the lessons of the story:
Respect Others -
"Company gets treated politely no matter who they are" (Calpurnia)
Be Open Minded -
"You never really understand a person until you consider
things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk
around in it." (Atticus)
Protect the Innocent -
"The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." (Atticus)
Everyone is Equal -
“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.” (Scout)
Take a Stand and Do the Right Thing -
When I sit back and reflect on all that she is doing at this time, and how well she is accomplishing it all, I'm reminded once again of what a remarkable young woman she is. Watching Punky during this process, paying attention to the personal, intellectual, and even physical growth that is occurring during this time I am reminded, once again, of a few important lessons.
Children will face any challenge they need to in order to accomplish a goal they desire to achieve.
Children will complete necessary tasks, in their own way, to accomplish a goal they desire to achieve.
Children will learn whatever is necessary to accomplish a goal they desire to achieve.
Children will excel at their goal when their goal is of their own making, fueled by their own interests and desires.
Punky amazes me by the amount of responsibility, dedication, and maturity she demonstrates every night at the theatre. She needs no prodding from me at all to learn her lines, know her cues, remember her schedule, develop her character, and honor her commitment to the part of Scout. It is in these moments that I see, very clearly, the woman she will become. A woman with a strong work ethic, respect for others, a generous spirit, and a self motivated doer! I feel blessed to witness this in her at such a young age. I know she is blessed to have found her passion at such a young age. Witnessing all this teaches me, yet again, that no matter how she may struggle with math or reading, she is fully capable of setting goals for herself, doing the work, and accomplishing what she sets out to accomplish. That is a lesson I'm more than happy to learn.